April 29, 2010. The day I took a deep breath and googled "losing my faith". After many years of deep questions and frustrated doubts, I finally decided to look at it from the other side. I waited for so long, because deep down I knew what would happen. I knew I had been walking the tightrope for too long, and I was very close to falling. I had been for years. So I googled with a strange mix of trepidation, excitement and guilt. My search led me to this blog entry: http://myspeculation.blogspot.com/2006/04/losing-my-faith.html. It was like my thoughts had been put on the screen by magic. It was me! My hidden questions, my secret angst and anger. And in the comments section a visitor logged off with this phrase: "SM- who still feels watched, even while I type this, by the God that I used to know and can’t stop talking to." I cried. I knew it was the beginning of the end, an end that had been forming for a very long time, and an end I had avoided with so much effort. I cried for the loss of innocent faith, for the loss of a friend that is always available, for the false promises that were vanishing as I wept. I cried for the loss of much comfort in my life, and for the breaking of a bond that holds my family together. I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning I woke up, and felt free. I felt like a thousand tonne wall had been lifted from my shoulders. I stared at the ceiling and marveled. My best friend, one of the lovliest people in the world, was not going to hell simply because she had been "born into sin" as all the rest of us had. My uncle was not rotting there now in eternal torment, simply because he was unable to reach out to God, which is impossible for us to do. All the people of earth have not been created for a strange and twisted experiment by a God who is in full control and had full knowledge of the consequences for His creation, even as He "lovingly" created them!
As I drove to work, I suddenly realized the plight of our tiny struggling church wasn't directly caused by my lack of faith. The empty pews weren't because I had not prayed often enough, read the Bible every morning and didn't visit someone every day to offer encouragement. The failure of my highschool Christian Group wasn't because my faith was faulty, despite my sleepless nights in prayer and pleading for a miraculous revival. In fact, I realized that the eternal fate of all who were around me did not depend directly on every action I took, or did not take. What an immense and profound relief.
As I spent my day at work, I would inexplicably smile as I realized that the ill tempered comment I had just made to my colleague was my own unseemly action. Not Satan and his demons buffeting me with unseen arrows. Not my all consuming battle against unseen forces. And most of all, not an action that may damn that poor girl to an eternal hell because I was a "bad witness". And I apologize with a genuine, uncontrived and unhindered apology. An apology for an action that was all mine and did not have eternal ramifications. A sense of true responsibility has started to develop, and it is lovely. Doing good simply for the sake of those around you, with no hidden agenda. What a beautiful concept!
All my questions: Why does God stay hidden when the stakes are so high? Why would he create sentient, feeling beings knowing he is creating most for an eternity of torment? Why do I see Christians around me, and they look no different than non-Christians? Why is my pastor still struggling with depression and control issues when he has completely dedicated his life go God for over 50 years? Where is the victory? We are supposed to be living supernatural lives, why don't I feel supernatural? Why, when I pray with heartfelt tears, for more faith, do I feel further away? These questions melt away as I read this website. All my questions have been asked. All my doubts have been felt by countless others. And there is peace on the other side.
What kept me on the tightrope for so long, the one thought that held me to Christianity for so many years was this: "When I pray, I feel Him. I feel Him there." But, on April 29, 2010, the thought occurred to me (and it was about time)that Muslims feel the same. Buddhists, Hindus, Aboriginal faith all derive an emotional connection from their beliefs. Why would mine be valid if I don't consider theirs valid? If this is all I am clinging to, it is a very flimsy "truth" to be basing my life on. And so, for the first time, I looked at the other side with open eyes.
More questions: Do I tell my kids? Do I tell my parents? My siblings? Thankfully my husband is not concerned with my sudden reversal of faith, the roots of Christianity do not go deeply for him. But my loved ones will, of course, fear for my eternal soul. And that is grief I do not wish to cause. My heart clenches just at the thought of it. These are questions to be answered at a much later date, I think.
I am very young in my de-conversion. I still find myself asking God for wisdom as I face a difficult co-worker. I still find myself reading into some random coincidence God's divine working. My lifetime within the Christian family was overwhelmingly positive. My leap away from faith was not out of injustice or anger at my Christian experience. My falling away was not to justify some big sin I am anxious to do. It just simply did not make sense, and I couldn't ignore that forever, no matter how hard I prayed. There will be loss for me. Yet the loss is far outweighed by the freedom I feel.
I do not know the day I "became a Christian", I was too young. But I don't think I will forget April 29, 2010. The day the weight of eternity was lifted.
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